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GAO – U.S. Postal Service: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Workforce Diversity Efforts

December 15, 2023


What GAO Found

The diversity of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) workforce has increased in recent years, including among its executive leaders. However, GAO’s analysis—which controlled for factors such as employee tenure—found that White, non-Hispanic or Latino, and male employees generally had more positive career outcomes in USPS management than other demographic groups. For example, Hispanic or Latino employees’ likelihood of promotion to middle manager roles was 28 percent less than their non-Hispanic or Latino counterparts. For Black or African American and Asian employees, the likelihood of promotion to middle manager roles was about 40 to 50 percent less than their White counterparts. In contrast, Black or African American and Asian managers were almost twice as likely as their White counterparts to be promoted to executive positions. GAO’s analysis of management pay, which also controlled for relevant factors, found that many historically disadvantaged racial or ethnic groups, as well as women and employees with disabilities, earned 1 to 7 percent less than their counterparts, who were White, non-Hispanic or Latino, men, and employees without disabilities, respectively.

In each of its annual reports to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from 2016 through 2022, USPS identified some triggers to achieving workforce diversity. However, lack of applicants’ demographic information, which is voluntarily provided by job and promotion applicants, limited USPS’s ability to identify actual barriers. USPS is developing a new data system but does not have a plan for how it will use the data.

U.S. Postal Service’s Diversity Practices Compared to Diversity Management Leading Practices

U.S. Postal Service's Diversity Practices Compared to Diversity Management Leading Practices

USPS met or mostly met five of the nine leading practices GAO previously identified for diversity management in the workplace. For example, establishing an Executive Diversity Council was among USPS actions that demonstrated top leadership commitment. USPS partially met the remaining four leading practices. For example, while its 10-year strategic plan highlights USPS’s commitment to diversity, the plan does not specify performance measures for achieving that end. Developing specific diversity-related performance measures could help USPS track its progress and identify areas where adjustments to its diversity program, practices, and policies may be warranted. In addition, USPS has developed advisory boards to facilitate USPS’s workforce diversity efforts, but membership of those boards consists only of senior USPS leaders. Gathering employee feedback from all career levels and different affinity groups could help USPS better assess progress towards its goal of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Why GAO Did This Study

USPS reports it employs one of the most diverse workforces in the nation. However, USPS has faced challenges ensuring its leadership reflects the diversity of its workforce and the U.S.

GAO was asked to examine USPS’s efforts to develop a diverse workforce. This report examines career outcomes for demographic groups in USPS management. It also addresses the extent to which USPS has identified barriers to achieving workforce diversity and met leading diversity management practices, among other objectives.

GAO used USPS data from fiscal years 2016 through 2022 to analyze career outcomes (promotions, pay, and separations) in management by demographic groups. GAO’s analyses do not completely explain the reasons for differences in career outcomes, which may result from various unobservable factors. Thus, GAO’s analyses do not establish a causal relationship between demographic characteristics and career outcomes. GAO reviewed USPS reports submitted to the EEOC and assessed USPS’s actions against diversity management leading practices. GAO interviewed EEOC and USPS officials.

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